Saturday, December 4, 2010

it's all in your head

Mental fortitude, mind over matter, courage of conviction.. it doesn't matter what you call it, if you don't have a vision of what you want, and if it doesn't sustain you on an existential level, you haven't a hope of reaching your goals. I am always interested in the pain of athletic endeavors, and what it takes to over-ride the incredible urge to quit and get out of the pain zone. Even in a 60 minute strength training workout with Ed on Friday evening, or in this mornings long run when my right forefoot was on fire and my hips were groaning in the 10th cold mile, I am constantly fighting the brain demons, the negative voices. Those little conversations in my head that bizzarely seem to have my voice, yet are trying to get me to quit, to finish early, to walk up that hill, to take the short cut home. Sometimes the counter voice is louder, stronger or more persistent, sometimes not.

When I give in, as I  have done on occasion now over decades of training and racing, I am invariably disappointed, as if I have eaten a full chocolate cake from the fridge in the middle of the night, or watched a beautiful plant die because I couldn't get off my arse to water it. It is this urge to avoid disappointment in myself that pushes me, that gives me strength to finish the appointed workout, and sometimes it is stories like this, that put my mind in a different place, imagining the pain, the difficulty and the suffering, and gaining perspective. Stories like Sam, and Nick never cease to inspire me, and I relish having painful limbs to feel, and feel grateful for the ability to push a mile more, to get another 3 reps done. I will always draw on my early experiences mountain bike racing, 24 hours of Snowshoe WV, in the middle of the night when I was whimpering through the "dark side of the moon" trail, towards the gnarly down hill. I was passed by a guy calling "on your left", and I pushed to the edge of the trail. In the light of my headlamp, I spotted a fella my age, riding by me with a carbon arm attached to his carbon handlebar. "On yer bike missus" he said, and that was enough. On my bike I got, and have kept going since.

M.O.A.B. 2010

Finishing my 5th day in class at 6:30, my brain was like spaghetti and I needed a break. I needed to ditch Provo like a pair of worn out knickers, so I sat heavy on the gas down I-15 past the windmills, and headed for route 6, bearing west-southwest and towards the desert.
says it all..

First night at the Aarchway Inn, I was glad to get a bed, any bed. Even one that was behind a triple lock (didn't bode well). The morning sun on the red Moab rocks outside my window confirmed my doubts about the "hotel", asI had to sidestep someones throwup by the front door, and again outside the front door.
Poison Spider bike shop set me up with a sweet ride, Trek Rumblefish 29er, brandy new, all set with bottles, repair kit and slimed tires. As well as the regular credit card info, I had to give them the make and model of the rental car, my height and weight, and let them know which trails I would be riding. While I first thought that the cute shopgirl was hitting on me, I realized then they were just taking the necessary precautions for when solo riders like myself blow into town with the tumbleweeds at the end of season. The wanted to get the bike back from the desert, and presumably, me with it.  As I was filling the requisite forms and proving my helmet was actually with me, a couple waltzed to the counter and began arguing, eyerolling and huffing as the mandatory helmet-speech was given..I wanted to hand the dumb asses a recent "brain sprain" article from Dirtrag magazine, but just gave a knowing eye to the shopgirl and rolled out of the store.
sinead and shadow, my only company

Back on Amasa Back

Colorado green, 1000 feet down..

Fun fun fun, 3 hours on Amasa back, lunch in town, then greedy mountain bike pig that I am, out onto Slickrock for the end of the day, another 3 hours.
yep, I rode this..

yes this too..

Amasa back is one of the alltime favorite rides in Moab, technical but rideable, especially with my new friend Rumblefish..the full suspension 29er almost feels like cheating, just eating up the nasty climbs, bouncing smoothly over ledges, and giving me the "cojones" to tackle terrain that I was a wee bit hesitant to manage (solo, in the desert, on rocks, edges of cliffs...)
follow the dots home...
Arriving at Slickrock late in the afternoon, there were only 3 cars in the famed parking lot, with the sun diving towards the colorado river. I rode conservatively, getting my brain used to the mind-game of sticking to rock at obscene angles, and clearing all kinds of slopes that would normally have me walking, whining, and crying.
Brandon, Tyler Rob and ?Tim my LDS buddies
One BIFF tore my elbow open, and I thought my knee cap was fractured. I waited it out, then watched 4 out of the 5 guys behind me all slide back down the rockface at the same point as I had just done.  We commiserated and compared wounds, then rode the rest of the loop together. Just as well this group of polite, clean, well groomed ne'er do well Mormon boys adopted me, as we finished the ride with the stars out over Poison Spider Mesa, and the temperature plummeted 20 degrees to freezing.
leaving Slickrock

Back to my lovely abode, this time no puke, I crashed after a bucket of pasta and salad in one of Moab's main street eateries. 10  hours of zzz's. Joy.
local wildlife (4 feet long, 100lbs..not really)
mountain bike in spring, summer, dirtbike in autumn, winter
Next day on Sovereign trails, communing with the dirtbikers, critters and the wide open landscape, I made my peace with sticky, pointy steep rocks, and thanked whatever for the chance to ride, ride alone, and ride (relatively) unscathed.
local restaurant recipies

Dinner alone at Desert Bistro, I said a silent "grace" to the massive elk burger before I swallowed that puppy, and was truly grateful for a belly full of local meat, and a soulful of bike time. Can't wait to come again in May, wanna join me?